Sunday, October 31, 2010


 My Grandmother taught me how to sew.
I remember her watching over me as I followed a simple pillow pattern of Rainbow Bright.We turned it right side out and hand stitched the hole. My first pillow!

The sewing machine I use today was the one I lugged out of her apartment after she passed. I also took her sewing box. Inside were stacks of zippers so old the unopened packages were faded and the plastic was crumbling. The thread, on wooden spools, was so brittle it snapped with stress.

The sewing machine manual was faded yet intact.
Each presser foot was accounted for.
She had both an electric and a simple stitch cutter.
She even had the Singer brand sewing machine oil.

It's been ten years since my Grandmother's death. Since then, I continued to make pillows using her simple instructions. That sewing box has been filled with my own supplies and tools.

My skills on the machine developed during this time. When I was in college, I sewed enough pillows to camouflage the shabby couch at my first apartment.

it was my imagination that proved to be my motivation to continue sewing.

I repurposed a body pillow into a self portrait pillow silhouette. It was a present for my boyfriend and I hoped it would keep my place in his bed while I jet set off to be a world traveler.

He had company.

I was comforted.


My Self Image Humpastuff Plush can bring life to your dreams. 

I had a dream I was a pillow. 
I was silky and plush with a sultry side 
and a side that was good as gold.
 I had red flowing hair and the perfect 
amount of (cl)ass. 


My Self Image Plush is totally equipped for novelty pleasure. Take me home, available at my Etsy shop, or use me as inspiration to create your own custom pillow likeness. 

My favorite recreation is the Yes She Can-can Plush.
Yes She Can-can Humpastuff Plush was inspired by an armchair pillow, she offers support for your back in bed or on the floor with with (cl)ass. She is larger than life sized at 45" from her chest to her toes. 
Yes She Can-can Humpastuff Plush available on Etsy
I think Grammy Darlyn would have gotten a kick out of my erotic pillows. She would have at least had an off handed comment about how they might help me to find a husband.

Oh my Darlyn!

Last weekend my family got together. We took out her photo collection.

Darlyn Miller was born in 1923.

When I was a child she would plead for just a single ringlet from my head of curls. She joked that with that lock of hair she could transform her wiry gray to tousled tendrils.

What I never knew then -
was that Darlyn had passed on to me her fine, shiny waves. 

I present the following photographs in honor of my Grammy, the young Darlyn, and the tradition of passing on genetics and hobbies.

Darlyn at 14.  Handmade lace collar.  Classic 30's curls kept away from the face.

 Crisp white shirt and beauty marks.   

Proper Grad. Proper Pea Coat. 
Natural curls at a modest wartime wedding. Fashionable bridal point sleeves and short veil. Bust and waist emphasized by shoulder and hip gathers. 

Dimpled young professional.  


Post war fashion - Family life.
Ready to wear fashions and synthetic materials were introduced to create The Housewife.   

Darlyn Miller married William Houser. She was the proud mother of three. Her youngest, my mother, was not yet born in the picture above. She continued to be active into her old age, gardening, skiing and most importantly spending time with her family. She put potato chips on top of her casseroles, sang "nobody loves me, everybody hates me, guess I'll go eat worms", and knew that we needed her even if we screamed bloody murder when she tried to clean our rooms. Thank you Grammy for teaching me how to sew. 

Humps of love, 
B a d  T w i n 

P.S. -

I'd love to make a pillow out of you. I'll even do couples;) A custom pair of Humpastuff Plush is a great wedding or bachelor/ette party present! Contact me if you are interested. I've made the bride AND the groom blush! Oh my Darlyn! 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Mouse Trap Vintage business card redesign

Thanks to my future hubby, cartoonist extraordinaire, Brian "Box" Brown, Mouse Trap Vintage has a new business card. I designed my old card more than 2 years ago and the redesign was long overdue. I'm really happy with how it came out; I am so pleased to see one of my actual mouse pins on there as opposed to the mouse illustration I was never quite satisfied with.




Friday, October 8, 2010

The birds of Annville

I discovered the Annville Antiques Station place back in September when I was in Harrisburg for work. It's located in Annville, PA in the Lebanon Valley. I highly recommend making the trip there! Expect 30,000+ sq. feet of antiques at very affordable prices . There's also an attached thrift store with lots of unbelievable deals and a VERY overpriced antiques section (make sure to skip right over that area).

My favorite find from this week's trip to the Station is a pair of feather art "pea fowls" (that's what the seller named them, but I believe they're ruffled grouse, PA's state bird). The birds were painted with with watercolor and embellished with actual feathers. I imagine the artist drew these birds from life shortly after they were killed, then plucked the feathers from the birds and arranged them onto the drawing; a sort-of two-dimensional taxidermy.

Included was a photo from the previous owner of the feather art framed on their living room wall!

The bird on the right hanging from the red string will be framed and hanging in my living room soon. The bird on the left hanging from the green string along with the photograph will be up in the shop tonight.

Along with these birds, I also scored two real fox tail key chains a set of three child-sized bowties in red, navy and green and a Sherlock Homles-esque ladies hat. All of these will be in the shop soon!


Monday, October 4, 2010

WEARING HISTORY: Deciphering Vintage Labels

Fashion trends can be mysteriously repetitious, fleeting or terribly long. Think Uggs, bleck!

Sifting through labels; some are like gold, some are hilarious, some are faded, and some are unknown. Do you Google items you find while shopping at flea markets, estate sales, and thrift stores?

When I need help identifying worthy vintage clothing I go to straight to the Nancy Drew of haute couture.

The Vintage Fashion Guild has compiled the most complete vintage fashion reference guide on the web in what they call VFG Label Resource.

There you can find a short history on thousands of men's and women's apparel companies and the brands they created as well as photo timelines of a brand's label.

Here are some of my personal history quests solved with a little help from my friends at the VFG.                                                                                

Bonwit Teller opened on 5th Avenue in 1911. 

During the twenties and thirties Bonwit Teller became well known for it's quality merchandise.

Peacock Linen Blouse by Bonwit Teller
Available at Humpastuff Vintage

The first female president of a major department store was at Bonwit Teller in 1938.  
Bonwit Teller supported a young Christian Dior in the 50's and lanched Calvin Klien's career in the 60's. 

By the late 80's Bonwit Teller declared bankruptcy and Donald Trump demolished their 5th Avenue store to erect The Trump Towers. 

Marimekko, a brand created in 1954, is still a wildly popular brand. 

Design and Research was the american sister brand based at Harvard University. They began making simple clothing with bold textile designs in 1963. 
I found this dress only a few miles from Harvard Square. The tag was dated 1965.

Sold! To a lucky girl in The Sunny State

Peck and Peck were Bonwit and Teller's neighbor on Fifth Avenue. 

The brother's chain of branded clothing lines grew to 80 stores in 80 years. 
Pick a Peck of Pickles Available at Humpastuff Vintage

Cortifiel was a small family owned Haberdasher in the late 1800's.

Available at Humpastuff Vintage

A Haberdasher was once a peddler of articles used for sewing- like buttons, thread and needles. The term currently describes a  men's outfitters.

Saint Louis IX, the King of France 1226–70, is the patron saint of haberdashers.

This jacket is an exceptional example of haberdashery; corduroy, leather trim, wood buttons, and handkerchief lining.   

House of Bianchi is a local Boston company.

Contour Lines in Mint Available at Humpastuff Vintage 

They had a corner on the wedding dress market for decades but abandoned shop and orders in progress in 2001, claiming a change in management and the state of the nation's finances where to blame.

P.J. walsh was named for designer Phillis Walsh. 

Cherry Blossoms and Fringe Available at Humpastuff Vintage

Nicole Miller was hired in 1976 to be the head designer and she never looked back.  By '82 she changed the company's name to...Nicole Miller.

North Beach Leather designed custom apparel for Elvis and Elton John. 
Peacock Sheen on Black Suede Mini Dress Available at Humpastuff Vintage 
They were famous for their bold designs and high cost. Some of Hoban's designs have appeared in collections at the Fashion Institute of Technology's Fashion History Museum in New York, as well as the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of American History in Washington.

Dear Vintage Fashion Guild, 

Thank you for helping me to get acquainted with some vintage fashion forerunners. Here are a couple of labels that are still a mystery in my time closet. 

PIER 1 had a clothing line??
Luck Be a Lady Dice Two Piece Suit by Serge Nancel

Mighty Fine Men's Purple Button Up
Leading Roll Ruffles and Red Roses Dress
Vinyl Mod Sailor Jacket

Gaga-glorious Black Bling Broken Winged Dress

Warm San Fransiscan Nights Creamy Prom Dress
Pick Nick Basket Not Included Adorable Apple Red Apron Dress

You get by with a little help from your friends...

B A D  T W I N 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Introducing ... L'il Pumpkin

As fall has finally arrived, Mouse Trap Vintage is pleased to introduce the newest addition to the City and Country Mouse Pin family - Li'l Pumpkin Country Mouse Pin! She's made of pumpkin spice colored wool-blend felt with recycled plaid wool-lined ears and is completely hand-stitched.

She's a limited edition of 10, so get yours fast! Available in the shop now for $22 each!

Happy fall, everyone!